President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden issued dueling warnings Saturday about the dire consequences of the other’s party emerging from Tuesday’s midterm elections with control of Congress.
Appearing in Ohio, Biden asserted that Republicans want to strip insurance coverage from people with preexisting health conditions and “eviscerate” Medicare and Social Security, two of the country’s popular entitlement programs.
Biden also sought to frame the election as a referendum on Trump’s leadership, relaying that foreign leaders with whom he continues to speak have been taken aback by many of the president’s actions.
“The very character of our country is on the ballot on Tuesday,” Biden said in Parma Heights, Ohio, where he appeared alongside Democratic Senate and gubernatorial candidates. “Folks, all the world’s looking.”
Appearing in Montana a few hours later, Trump asserted that the real danger would be a takeover of Congress by “radical Democrats.”
“This election will decide whether we build on the extraordinary prosperity that we’ve achieved or whether we let the radical Democrats take control of Congress and take a giant wrecking ball to our economy and to the future of our nation,” Trump said.
Trump also accused Democratic leaders of pushing for “socialist” health care and wanting to “erase” U.S. borders and “invite caravan after caravan” of Central American migrants into the country.
The respective speeches came amid a final push by luminaries in both parties to drive up turnout for elections that will determine control of Congress, dozens of governorships and down-ballot races around the country.
A day after acknowledging that Republicans could lose the House on Tuesday, Trump largely focused on Senate and gubernatorial races.
Democrats need to net 23 seats to take control of the House, and they need to gain two seats to win the majority in the Senate, where the map is more favorable to Republicans.
Trump’s appearance in Montana was his fourth on behalf of Republican Matt Rosendale, who is seeking to knock off Sen. Jon Tester (D) there.
Trump has trained his sights on Tester in part for his role in sinking Trump’s nomination of Ronny L. Jackson to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs in April. Tester, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, released a list of allegations that created a portrait of a long history of professional misconduct by Jackson.
“I’ve never forgotten it, and honestly, it’s one of the reasons I’ve been here so much,” Trump told his crowd. “Jon Tester tried to ruin him.”
During the rally, he also plugged the reelection of Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), who garnered national headlines for assaulting a reporter last year. “He is fantastic,” Trump said of Gianforte, adding that he is “very respected in Washington.”
Upon leaving Belgrade in the state, Trump was headed to another rally in Florida, which also has a marquee Senate race this year.
In Florida, Trump is also trying to bolster the fortunes of Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ron DeSantis, a candidate he endorsed during the GOP primary, who has been lagging in polls behind Democrat Andrew Gillum. If elected, Gillum would be the state’s first black governor.
Vice President Pence, meanwhile, was dispatched to Wisconsin on Saturday in a bid to help the reelection bid of embattled Gov. Scott Walker (R) and will later join Trump in Florida.
“This race is as close as it can be. It’s a dead heat,” Pence told a crowd in Hudson, Wis., while wearing navy blue jacket emblazoned with Walker’s name. “Every vote counts.”
The flurry of activity comes on the heels of high-profile appearances Friday by former president Barack Obama and Trump, who has urged supporters to act as though his name is on the ballot Tuesday. Obama plans to be back on the trail Sunday, seeking to give a boost to Democrats in Indiana.
Underscoring Republican jitters about losing the House, a super PAC backed by House Republican leaders announced Saturday that it is coming to the aid of Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who has represented his state’s at-large congressional district since 1973.
The Congressional Leadership Fund said it would conduct a “hyper-targeted” get-out-the-vote effort on Young’s behalf to relay the message that the “extreme, liberal agenda” of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “would be a disaster for Alaska.”
Much of Trump’s closing argument has centered around immigration, with the president casting Democrats as wanting to turn the nation into a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.
During Saturday’s rally, Trump addressed criticism that he has talked more about immigration than the economy, which many Republicans consider to be the party’s strongest argument ahead of the midterms.
Trump pointed out correctly that he had addressed the economy earlier in his remarks, but he said there was only so much he could say about job reports and other positive indicators before losing his audience.
“I can only go for four or five minutes with that stuff,” Trump said, adding that he also wants to talk about “problems we want to fix.”
During his remarks, he asserted that Democrats want to allow undocumented immigrants to vote because it will help their election prospects.
“What do they really want? The right to vote,” Trump said. “They figure that’s the way they stay in office forever.”
Trump’s campaign committee released a television ad on Friday focused on immigration. It features images of Luis Bracamontes, an undocumented immigrant who was convicted of killing two sheriff’s deputies in California in 2014, and a migrant caravan moving through Mexico toward the U.S. border.
“Stop the caravan. Vote Republican,” the ad concludes.
In a tweet, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said the campaign was spending $1.5 million on the buy and complained that CNN was refusing to air the ad.
The network responded with a statement Saturday: “CNN has made it abundantly clear in its editorial coverage that this ad is racist. When presented with an opportunity to be paid to take a version of this ad, we declined. Those are the facts.”
While flying between rallies Saturday, Trump sought to make immigration a wedge issue in the race for a Senate seat from Arizona. In a tweet, he said that Republican Rep. Martha McSally would provide “Border Security” and asserted her Democratic opponent Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, whose name he misspelled, “doesn’t even think about it.”
“If it were up to Sinema — drugs, crime and illegal traffic will be flowing into Arizona at an ever increasing pace.” Trump wrote. “Vote for Martha!”
In one of two rallies Friday, Trump acknowledged to a crowd in West Virginia that Republicans could lose control of the House but sounded optimistic about his party’s prospects in the Senate.
“We’re doing really well in the Senate, but could happen,” Trump said of losing the House. “And you know what you do? My whole life — you know what I say? Don’t worry about it. I’ll just figure it out.”
During a television interview Saturday, Pelosi said she is confident Democrats will win control of the House on Tuesday.
“I speak from the ground. I’ve traveled all over the country,” Pelosi said. “The enthusiasm is something that I’ve never seen before.”
Obama stumped Friday in Georgia for Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams, touting her as “the most experienced, the most qualified candidate in this race.” That was a retort to Trump, who had called Abrams — who would be the nation’s first black female governor — “not qualified.”
Abrams, who faces Republican Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, has been the beneficiary of a string of prominent visitors, including media mogul Oprah Winfrey.
“I think it is a signal of how important Georgia is to America,” Abrams said during an appearance Saturday morning on MSNBC.
While many of the same issues have driven midterm races across the country, a new ad from a Texas congressional race underscored how contours differ from contest to contest.
Democrat MJ Hegar posted the one-minute ad on Friday after her opponent, Rep. John Carter (R), compared their campaign to a war. In the ad, Hegar, who served three tours in Afghanistan as a combat search-and-rescue pilot, tells Carter: “Well, respectfully congressman, you don’t know . . . about war.”
An expletive is bleeped out.